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'Plan is to keep it simple' - Shami marks ODI return with 150 wickets in record time

He had not played a 50-over game since November 2020, but took 3 for 31 on his comeback

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
Mohammed Shami's first ODI since November 2020 was a memorable one. Against England at The Oval on Tuesday, he became the fastest to 150 ODI wickets for India - in his 80th match - breaking Ajit Agarkar's record of 97 games.
While Jasprit Bumrah's career-best performance of 6 for 19 in the first ODI vaulted him to the top of the rankings for bowlers, Shami also bowled a crucial spell in the series opener. His 3 for 31 in seven overs included the wickets of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler as the hosts were shot out for 110, paving the way for India's first ten-wicket victory in an ODI against England.
"The ball was stopping a bit, seaming a bit, so it was important to bowl in the right areas and keep our line in check," Shami told India's bowling coach Paras Mhambrey during an interview for
"If your [bowling] areas are good on a surface where it seams and swings, it's difficult to get away. We kept it simple and got rewarded with wickets. The more you run behind wickets, the more it doesn't happen. I kept it simple, and the results are there to see."
Shami set the tone in the first over after Rohit Sharma chose to bowl. He hit Jonny Bairstow on the thigh with his second delivery, beat him with extra bounce two balls later, and ended the over with one that squared up the England opener.
When Bumrah struck twice in his opening over, dismissing Jason Roy and Joe Root, it was the resumption of a bowling partnership that India had not seen in an ODI for more than 18 months.
"We've been playing together for so long that in two overs you understand what's happening and what you have to do," Shami said of his partnership with Bumrah. "When I bowled the first over, you could see the ball was seaming around; there was swing on offer. Bumrah also then tried to incorporate the same length and got wickets also.
"I was away for three years [18 months] - it was a long break - but once you get comfortable in this environment, you know your responsibilities. It's important to have a clear mind. What to do, what lengths to bowl, how to use your variations everyone knows, but you need to be clear about it from within."
After the defeat in the Edgbaston Test, Shami was not part of the T20I squad that won the series 2-1, and he now has the chance to help India seal the ODI series at Lord's on Thursday.
"Personally, my plan is to just keep it simple. That is my mantra," he said. "You only have to think if the wickets are different. Otherwise, if you repeat the same things over and over again, chances of success is that much more. Only if the wickets are slow and dry, there's scope for you to change plans, else just carry on doing the same things."

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo